Legal technology and services provider UnitedLex is augmenting its executive team with five high-profile hires from the Big Four accounting firms, signaling that it wants to be a bigger player in the digital legal transformation space.
UnitedLex, in operation since 2006, said in a statement Tuesday that the hires are a key element of the company's vision and strategy for providing legal departments with a platform to embrace a digital world.
David Clarke, a former digital strategy and innovation leader from consulting giant PwC, has been tapped as UnitedLex's new executive vice president and chief experience and marketing officer.
"We don't see the Big Four as a competitor, but as a partner in the same light as Microsoft," Clarke told Law360 Pulse. "What we do is baked into our legal DNA and is a highly specialized area of business."
Joining Clarke from PwC will be former senior managing director Audra Nichols, who will become UnitedLex's senior vice president of digital solutions and methods, and former wealth management lead and senior client partner lead Christian Schmitt, who will become UnitedLex's executive vice president of clients and markets.
Bhavesh Patel, who has technology consultant experience at Accenture and PwC, is being enlisted as UnitedLex's senior vice president of transformation.
Former Deloitte partner Mike Duggan is also joining UnitedLex as executive vice president of clients and markets.
Clarke said the executives decided to join UnitedLex at this time because they believe it is their opportunity to help shape the future of digital legal transformation.
"All of us have been involved in many types of business transformation," Clarke said. "But legal is at the rare stage where we can not only influence but lead the transformation by bringing together business acumen, technology enablement and experience design. In a nutshell, this is our once-in-a-career opportunity."
Clarke added that legal departments are turning to UnitedLex's platform as C-suites demand more automation. "Capturing the value from legal is becoming core to how they report the success of their functional area," Clarke said.
The new hires aren't the only Big Four executives to have recently joined UnitedLex. PwC's David Edelheit came on board as chief digital and transformation officer in July.
The legal tech company has made other additions as well. In 2020, UnitedLex acquired a 20-person data analytics team from Paul Hastings LLP to bolster its artificial intelligence offerings.
"At UnitedLex, we are leading the way for digital transformation in legal, one of the last industries to fully embrace digital solutions," CEO Dan Reed said in a statement Tuesday. "By harnessing the knowledge of these digital transformation experts, UnitedLex can meet the tremendous demand to bring legal into the digital age."
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